Visit to Sierra Leone brings new opportunities for College collaborations

Opportunities for collaborations arise from meetings with key stakeholders, alumni and academic partners in Freetown, Sierra Leone

In late July 2022 Professor Mike Templeton , Professor of Public Health Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Chair of Imperial College’s Global Development Hub , travelled to Freetown, Sierra Leone and had the chance to meet with a number of key stakeholders, alumni and academic partners there. The visit set the groundwork for opportunities for a number of future collaborations in the country for College staff and students, who are encourage to contact with Prof. Templeton if they are interested in becoming involved or finding out more.

During the visit, he met with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab team. The team presented their current portfolio of technologies, invented by local entrepreneurs, that they are supporting to encourage business development in the area. The technological scope for innovations is wide ranging, spanning across a variety of areas including agriculture, energy and water. The plan is to sign an agreement with the Lab to allow College staff and students to work with them on the research needed to take some of these innovations further.

Prof. Templeton also met with Imperial alumnus Alexandre Tourre, CEO of the well-established company, Easy Solar. Easy Solar enhances the lives of people across West Africa by providing access to solar energy solutions and other transformative durable goods. They make these affordable through a range of flexible financing options, empowered by pay-as-you-go technology, and accessible through an extensive network of agents and shops. The potential for College collaboration with the Tourre’s company is being explored, for example, the prospect of financing short student internship placements is currently under consideration. College staff and students who would be interested in working with Easy Solar, should contact Prof. Templeton.

During his time in Freetown, Prof. Templeton met with academic colleagues in the Faculty of Engineering at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone (USL). He was invited to give a lecture on his sanitation-focused research and participated in the launch ceremony of a new water quality testing lab. His collaboration with colleagues at the university, which began in 2017, has been supported by funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Catalyst programme and Higher Education Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa programme. This has included discussions around curriculum development and professional engineering accreditation standards, as well as collaboration on short student research projects. He and departmental colleagues are also trialling a remote PhD supervision scheme with faculty members there, whereby the Sierra Leonean faculty pursue PhD-level research while being based in-country and are remotely supervised by Imperial College academics. The PhD degree will be awarded by USL.

If colleagues are interested in participating in this remote PhD supervision scheme or in starting up a similar arrangement with another academic partner institution in a developing country, please get in touch with Prof. Templeton or the International Relations Office (